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Is a DHA supplement necessary?

I have been reading up on the omega-3 fatty acids and was wondering if a DHA supplement is necessary for vegans. 
Does anyone have any suggestions or opinions on this?  And is there anyone that takes a DHA supplement?

Yes, I recently started taking a DHA supplement.  I highly recommend that you check out VeganHealth.org: http://veganhealth.org/articles/omega3

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I also take a DHA supplement.  I get mine from www.drfuhrman.com and it is derived from algae, not fish.  There are a lot of supplements out there, but this is the only one I know of that is not fish-based and is grown in a lab under controlled conditions (not susceptible to environmental contamination, ie. mercury).  There may be others out there, but it's lemon-flavored and very easy to put 0.5 ml into my morning smoothie.

Here's a couple links if you want to read more about DHA.

https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article11.aspx
http://drfuhrman.com/library/DHA_benefits.aspx

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I don't take DHA, and as far as omega 3s in general go, I'm not really concerned. There's a lot of hype about it "only" being in fish oil and flaxseeds, but there are actually many foods that have a decent ratio, including canola oil. If I remember right, though, there are fewer long-chain omega 3s (such as DHA) in a vegan diet, but the definitive effects of this has yet to be determined. There's some evidence of shorter clotting times with less DHA in vegetarians, but there's also contrary evidence. =/

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It's also found in walnuts, hemp and a few other foods (can't remember off the top of my head right now).

They're also still learning about omegas so everything is very new and I wouldn't just rush out and grab an expensive bottle of suppliments, especially since you get the best benefits by consuming it in a food source. Like I said though, they are still researching it and I recently read an article about a study which found no cognitive benefits by taking an omega suppliment.

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I just ran across this entry on the blog by Jack Norris RD, the guy who writes the VeganHealth.org nutrition recommendations: http://jacknorrisrd.com/?p=1084
Note that he does say "I am not so sure that vegans need to take DHA – the research is far from conclusive. But I would say that it is prudent (assuming they have no reason to think they are getting too much omega-3...)"

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Omega 3's are one of the most researched things out there in the last 10 years.  There's still much infomration coming out.  The verdict is pretty much out there that Omega 3's have a tremendous amount of benefits from head to toe.  There are plenty of good vegan sources of omega 3's.  However, my understanding is that while DHA is manufactured by our body's from the fats we take in it's difficult to get in the high amounts necessary from plant sources. 

I don't think a supplement is necessary, but it certain can be beneficial.  I take one made by DEVA.

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I took the one by DEVA and felt absolutely no difference. If anything I felt worse than I did before.

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For me it's not a matter of "feeling different".  I don't feel anymore different when I pop a vitamin pill either.  It's about getting the long-term benefits and prevention.

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I don't take a multivitamin, only certain types of vitamins/supplements and I do feel a difference when I use them. Personally, I'm not going to pay all of that money for something that may or may not be benefit me, that I can already get from food and that I feel absolutely no difference when taking.

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Fair enough.

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I take DHA.  And I have been reading - probably too much about it.

What I have read that it is not necessary for a vegan diet if you are getting Omega 3 oil from some food (like flax seed).  Our bodies can make DHA from Omega 3.

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Damn, you guys should be taking E3LIve! It has DHA, B-12, plus 64 vitamins and minerals, all from a volcanic lake! and YES you will FEEL a difference, which is the main reason I take it. It is pure blue-green algae. I've been taking it for a year now and don't take any other supplements.

Don't forget I'm a whole saler and can get you a discount!
It's organic and vegan.
PM me if you want me to hook you up. I promise you won't be disappointed!

http://www.e3live.com

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What I have read that it is not necessary for a vegan diet if you are getting Omega 3 oil from some food (like flax seed).  Our bodies can make DHA from Omega 3.

But isn't it also true that our bodies have trouble making an adequate amount to be of much benefit? 

Still, the body is amazing and with good nutrition and variety, not much is really needed in the way of supplementation. 

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I agree, Tweety!

From what I understand, although we can get omega 3's in other foods, DHA is a specific omega 3 that is only in significant amounts in fish (same with EPA), and algae.

I've been taking a DHA supplement for about a month now. I'm looking to get a DHA/EPA combo next.

Here's some research I had done previously on this topic:

http://www.dietaryfiberfood.com/fats/omega-3-fatty-acids-dha-food-sources.php

Quote:
    Human body is not capable of synthezing these fatty acids. Hence, they are called essential fatty acids (EFA). They are major components of brain cells and thus crucial for proper nervous system function. The deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids has been associated with multitude brain disorders such as depression, learning skills, memory loss. 

    Top sources are: eel, tuna, mackerel, rainbow trout, salmon, herring.

http://www.askdrsears.com/html/4/T040400.asp

Quote:
    Cultures whose diet is high in omega 3 fatty acids (such as the Eskimos who eat a lot of fish) have a lower incidence of degenerative diseases of the central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis.

        * Experimental animals whose diets are low in DHA have been found to have smaller brains and delayed central-nervous-system development.
        * Some children with poor school performance because of ADD, have been shown to have insufficient essential fatty acids in their diet.

    DHA appears in high levels in coldwater fish: sardines, salmon, and albacore tuna.

http://www.dha-in-mind.com/

Quote:
    Omega-3 DHA ‘docosahexaenoic acid’ is an essential fatty
    acid, which cannot be manufactured in our body and must
    be obtained daily through our diets.  DHA is the most
    complex form of Omega-3.

http://www.omega3forchildren.co.uk/articles/article_details.aspx?id=231

Quote:
    The brain is 60% fat, of which DHA is one of the most important components essential for brain and eye function. DHA is also present in every other cell in your body, in the membrane of the tiny structures (mitochondria) that make energy. These are especially concentrated in heart muscle cells. 

    Very small amounts of DHA may be made in the body from an essential fatty acid, linolenic acid, but the amount made is probably low and most DHA comes from our diet. DHA is mainly found in animal products such as fish, eggs and meats. 

    Oily fish, such as mackerel, herring, salmon, trout, sardines, pilchards, are the richest dietary source of EFAs, containing 10 to 100 times more DHA than non-marine food sources such as nuts, seeds, wholegrains and dark green, leafy vegetables. Those who follow a strict vegetarian are most likely to have a low DHA level. The only rich vegetable source of DHA is algae. 

    In older people, low levels of DHA have been linked with memory loss, mood swings and conditions such as dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism.

    DHA is one of the omega-3 fatty acids that makes fish oils so beneficial for heart health. 

    t has beneficial effects on cholesterol and triglyceride levels and may also have beneficial effects on blood pressure and heart rhythm. Ideally we should all eat fish at least twice a week. Sadly, however, because of the levels of pollutants such as mercury, dioxins and PCBs, the Food Standards Agency recently advised that only one of these portions should be oily fish. 

http://lifesdha.com/About-DHA/DHA-in-the-Diet.aspx

Quote:
    While FDA does not have a regulation establishing a recommended daily intake for DHA, the agency has not objected to the use of 160 mg as a daily value for DHA.

    A workshop sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (NIH/ISSFAL) recommended an intake of 220mg/day of DHA for healthy adults.

    Algae - Certain algae are natural sources of DHA. And while most people believe that fish produce their own DHA, in fact, it’s the algae they feed on that make them a rich source of DHA.

        * Fatty fish including anchovies, salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna and halibut
        * Organ meat such as liver
        * Small amounts are found in egg yolks.

    http://www.dhaomega3.org/index.php?category=faq&title=1259268286

Quote:
    The dietitians of North America have officially recommended a target intake of 500 mg/day (DHA+EPA) for healthy adults with no specific differentiation between genders. It is noted that PeriLip (under sponsorship of the European Union) have advised on a target intake of 200 mg./day of DHA during pregnancy and lactation. 

http://www.nutraingredients.com/Regulation/Regulation-Omega-3-ready-for-RDIs-and-further-health-claims

Quote:
    In a 2002 report, IoM recommended a safe level for EPA and DHA of about 270mg per day, a figure industry would consider as being at the low end of the spectrum.

    The American Dietetic Association recommend a minimum combined intake of 500 mg/day EPA and DHA to support heart health.

    In 2003, an EVM report recommended 450mg. There are higher measures such as 2000mg per day from a Japanese report.

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In my research, it seems that EPA is equally as important too:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega-3_fatty_acid

Quote:
    Nutritionally important n−3 fatty acids include α-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), all of which are polyunsaturated . The human body cannot synthesize n−3 fatty acids de novo, but it can form "long chain" 20-carbon unsaturated n−3 fatty acids (like EPA) and 22-carbon unsaturated n−3 fatty acids (like DHA) from the "short chain" eighteen-carbon n−3 fatty acid α-linolenic acid. The short chain n−3 fatty acids are converted to long chain forms (EPA, DHA) with an efficiency of approximately 5% in men, and at a greater percentage in women.
    These conversions occur competitively with n−6 fatty acids, which are essential closely related chemical analogues that are derived from linoleic acid. Both the n−3 α-linolenic acid and n−6 linoleic acid are essential nutrients which must be obtained from food.

    n−3 fatty acids which are important in human nutrition are: α-linolenic acid (18:3, n−3; ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5, n−3; EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6, n−3; DHA).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Docosahexaenoic_acid

Quote:
    A study found that preterm infants fed baby formulas fortified with DHASCO derived directly from algae gained weight faster than infants fed formula fortified with DHA from fish oil.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eicosapentaenoic_acid

Quote:
    Because EPA is also a precursor to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), ensuring a sufficient level of EPA on a diet containing neither EPA nor DHA is harder both because of the extra metabolic work required to synthesize EPA and because of the use of EPA to metabolize DHA.
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That all being said, I was vegan previously for over 10 years, and never took any supplements at all, and was very healthy. So, it could be totally unnecessary. :shrug:

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From what I understand, although we can get omega 3's in other foods, DHA is a specific omega 3 that is only in significant amounts in fish (same with EPA), and algae.

I've been taking a DHA supplement for about a month now. I'm looking to get a DHA/EPA combo next.

fyi -
You can get DHA supplements derived from seaweed (vegan). 
EPA is only derived from fish oil (not vegan).

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From what I understand, EPA is derived from the algae that the fish eat, just like DHA, so it is possible to get it vegan, I found one here:

http://www.veganstore.com/635.html

Quote:
V-Pure Vegan EPA-DHA Omega-3
Oily fish are rich sources of omega-3 EPA and DHA, but this is due to their diet of algae.
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Came across this interesting article!

http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/fat#DHAEPA

Quote:
While many vegetarians have obviously survived just fine without taking EPA or DHA supplements, some might have become depressed or had other problems from low DHA levels.

Note that it is easier for the body to convert ALA into EPA and if you supplement with DHA, your body can convert some of it (about 10%) into EPA. If you are supplementing your diet with both ALA (through flax or canola) and DHA, EPA levels should probably be fine. However, there is now an EPA/DHA supplement available. (see list below)

Vegan EPA/DHA supplements:
      V-PURE vegan EPA & DHA supplement.
      60 vegetable capsules per bottle
      25 mg EPA and 175 mg DHA per capsule.
      Now available from Pangea and Vegan Essentials.

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This is very cool! I found that spirulina has both DHA and EPA!! Not to mention tons of other good stuff! I just picked up some, can't wait to try it!

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